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Talk like a Pirate Day: The Princess Bride
by Asa Butcher
2009-09-19 09:43:37
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The Princess Bride
Directed by Rob Reiner
1987, 20th Century Fox

Today, me hearties, is International Talk like a Pirate Day and for the fourth consecutive year Ovi magazine has joined the celebrations by hoisting the Skull and Crossbones up its flagpole and writing a pirate-themed article. This year I am honouring one of the greatest film pirates, no not Captain Jack Sparrow, but rather the Dread Pirate Roberts from Rob Reiner's 1987 classic The Princess Bride - no, this isn't a kissing film, well not entirely!

The Princess Bride is, without a doubt, the greatest fairytale film ever committed to film: it has everything from heroes and villains, pirates and giants, Cliffs of Insanity, Rodents of Unusual Size, a Pit of Despair, battles of wits and a generous dose of True Love! All of this is brilliantly tied together with some of the funniest dialogue and memorable quotes that will ever pass your way in a single film outing, perhaps even more than Reiner's earlier film This Is Spinal Tap - now there's a comparison for you!

One of the charms of The Princess Bride is its storybook narrative style that has a grandfather (the ever-lovable Peter "Columbo" Falk) arriving to read the story to his ill grandson (the ever-cheeky Fred "The Wonder Years" Savage). Throughout the film we return to the bedroom whenever the grandson has questions or concerns about the plot just as though you are reading a story to a child. The narrative style is established early on with a number of cutbacks, such as when the story of True Love between Westley (Cary Elwes) and Buttercup (Robin Wright Penn) begins to unfold and the concerned grandson suddenly interrupts: Hold it, hold it. What is this? Are you trying to trick me? Is this a kissing book?

The grandson's suspicions are allayed when the grandfather implies that Westley was murdered by the Dread Pirate Roberts, although we later discover that Westley has actually become the aforementioned pirate. The heartbroken Buttercup accepts the marriage proposal of Prince Humperdinck thereby beginning an adventure that will entertain all ages and both sexes. The Princess Bride is a genuine family film, one of those Sunday afternoon movies that you can all sit together and watch as the rain runs down the windows without worrying if the content is suitable… even the torture and death are clean and, strangely, fun!

Cary Elwes' Westley is a Robin Hood-esque character that is able to sword fight and return to life, while eschewing charm and humour that only becomes Elwes - he actually did go on to portray Robin of Loxley in Mel Brook's Men in Tights. Westley does get most of the memorable scenes, but it is only thanks to such an incredible array of characters that accompany him throughout the film. The best, in my humble opinion, are Mandy Patinkin's Inigo Montoya, who is seeking revenge for his father's murder, and Wallace Shawn's Vizzini and his "Inconceivable!"

Other notable characters include André the Giant's Fezzik, Christopher Guest's Count Tyrone Rugen, Peter Cook's The Impressive Clergyman, Mel Smith's The Albino and Billy Crystal's hilarious Miracle Max, who is one of the highlights of the film:

Inigo Montoya: Are you the Miracle Max who worked for the king all those years?

Miracle Max: The King's stinking son fired me, and thank you so much for bringing up such a painful subject. While you're at it, why don't you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it?

Each character could easily have enjoyed a spin-off film dedicated to just him, but I guess we will just have to enjoy them as an ensemble, each giving their best and providing numerous genuine belly laughs.

Rob Reiner has since proved his directorial skills with When Harry Met Sally..., Misery and A Few Good Men, but The Princess Bride remains of my favourites from his filmography (The American President is number one) and I urge you to uncover this jewel for yourself. From the scenes between Falk and Savage, and Elwes and Wright Penn to the outlandish scenarios and characters, there is enough to keep everybody entertained and to keep coming back for more… even if there is a bit of kissing involved!

* * * * * *

Previous International Talk Like a Pirate Day articles:

2006 - http://www.ovimagazine.com/art/445

2007 - http://www.ovimagazine.com/art/2116

2008 - http://www.ovimagazine.com/art/3516

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